Okay, let’s play with an inversion.
These are the words of my yoga instructor towards the end of each class. We get about five minutes to go upside down before our final stretches.
Any kind of inversion will do, as long as our legs are above our hearts.
Some people are in shoulder stand, on their backs with their feet in the air, arms tucked under the hips for support. Some people rest their legs up along the wall.
Others are in Headstand or Handstand or Forearm Stand, trying one and then another other and stopping in between to chat.
When I practice yoga, I rarely look around the room. The music and the instruction put me in sort of a zone bound by the edges of my mat.
There are times after the practice when someone approaches me to comment on a pose, and I am always amazed that anyone was even watching. I assume everyone else is in his or her zone, too.
What is different now, though, is that during the inversion segment, I seem to have started to step out of bounds, looking past my mat to the others in the room. These days, I seem to be keener on watching people go upside down than in going upside down myself!
I do a few inversions, and then I sit back and look at the mirrored reflections of those around me.
The morning attendance has grown, and often the room can be crowded. There is a lot to see; everyone is doing something different.
I feel like I am cheating on my practice when I take the focus off myself to view the others; but, even so, I sit back on my mat and look around at the differing shapes and sizes, ages and abilities, and ranges of form and grace.
Maybe it is not so yogic to look around, but I find that I do so without any judgment.
More often, it is just with wonder.
I wonder how it is that I have come to embrace this practice and to share the room with all these people several times a week.
What if I never tried yoga? Would I be sleeping at this early hour while all these people would be here without me, upside down? Would I know what I was missing?
It briefly crosses my mind that while we might move in unison during the practice, we all have our own stories that brought us here, to yoga and to this class.
And each person’s story is as important as the others and just as important as mine. I think this is what makes me able to regard my fellow yogis with only wonder and amazement.
My lookabout is pretty brief. It lasts just long enough to give me a break from the inversions and, sometimes, can make me feel somewhat on my own in this roomful of people.
But that is okay.
I pop up into one more Handstand and hold it as long as I can.
I have my story and am grateful to be upside down in the company of others who have theirs, too.